TORONTO — There are many things to love about this city’s international film festival. One thing you miss, though, compared to a festival like Cannes, is the jeering. You miss that moment, as the closing credits begin, where people start to whistle and boo and hoot. It says that a movie has achieved a singular sort of wretchedness, of embarrassment, of failure. It says, “God, you’re awful, but magnificently, grandly awful.”
If “Cloud Atlas” had premiered at Cannes, it would have been booed. As it was, when the house lights came up on Saturday night after nearly three hours and the names of the directors — Lana and Andy Wachowski, who made the “Matrix” movies, and Tom Tykwer, the innovative German still most famous for “Run Lola Run” — popped onto the screen, there was a kind of applause vacuum. In a packed 600-seat house, three people clapped. And you got the sense that they clapped to keep from crying. Headed out of the theater no one really knew what to do or to say — well, a friend of mine said to someone else that he was glad he read the book, David Mitchell’s immense saga of past lives and cosmic connections. He, at least, knew what to make of it.